Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid when his contract expires this month, the club announced on Sunday and is now expected to join Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad.
ESPN reported on Thursday that Benzema has decided to leave the La Liga giants after 14 years to accept a lucrative offer from a club in Saudi Arabia.
Benzema is Real Madrid’s second-highest goalscorer of all time and has won a record 25 trophies with the club – including five Champions League and four LaLiga titles – as well as the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
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“Real Madrid CF and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to put an end to his brilliant and unforgettable time as a player at our club,” Madrid said in a statement. “Real Madrid want to show their gratitude and all their affection for a player who is already one of our greatest legends.
“Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been an example of conduct and professionalism and he has represented our club’s values. Karim Benzema has earned the right to decide his future… Real Madrid is and will always be his home and we wish him and his entire family all the best in this new chapter of his life.”
The club announced that an event to pay tribute to Benzema would be held at their training ground on Tuesday 6 June.
ESPN reported earlier in the week that Benzema had been offered a two-year deal worth €400m for a move to Saudi Arabia in January, the same deal as Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr after leaving Manchester United.
The centre-forward was expected to stay at Madrid for one more season until June 2024 but he opts to take on a new challenge instead.
Benzema joined Madrid from Lyon in 2009 and after a difficult start found a place alongside Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as one of the club’s most accomplished strikers.
He took on the role of Madrid’s top scorer when Ronaldo left in 2018 and last year had the best season of his career, scoring 27 goals in LaLiga and 15 in the Champions League while the club lifted both trophies. That form was recognized when Benzema was awarded the Ballon d’Or in October.
The Madrid captain has struggled with injuries this season and missed out on the World Cup, but still managed to score 18 goals in 23 LaLiga games.
His 25 trophies at the club – a record he shares with Marcelo – include four LaLiga titles, five Champions League titles, three Copas del Rey, four Spanish Supercopas, four UEFA Super Cups and five FIFA Club World Cups.